Road fatalities per 100,000 persons a record low last year, but rise in deaths of elderly pedestrians a concern
Singapore's traffic safety situation improved last year, with the number of fatal accidents falling and the fatality rate per 100,000 persons at a record low since 1981.
But a key concern was the rising number of elderly pedestrians who were hurt or killed in traffic accidents, said the Traffic Police (TP) yesterday during a briefing on the annual road traffic statistics.
There were 140 fatal accidents last year, down from 148 in 2015, with 141 fatalities, 10 fewer than the 151 in 2015.
The fatality rate per 100,000 persons was 2.51, down from 2.73 in 2015, and the lowest since 1981 when TP started collecting such data.
But the 19.6 per cent rise in accidents involving elderly pedestrians, with 268 cases last year, 44 more than the 224 in 2015, was worrying.
The TP said most of the cases involved motorists not keeping a look-out for, or not giving way to elderly pedestrians.
There were 28 elderly fatalities last year, a 21.7 per cent increase from the 23 in 2015.
Of the 28 who died, 16 had jaywalked - which means they were within 50m of a pedestrian crossing or overhead bridge but had failed to use them.
This was in line with a 42.1 per cent increase in the number of accidents involving elderly pedestrians who jaywalked - with 81 cases last year compared with 57 in 2015.
TP Commander, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SAC) Sam Tee, said the rise in accidents involving elderly pedestrians was cause for concern, particularly with the ageing population.
He said TP has been working with more than 100 Senior Activities Centres and Senior Citizen Corners since last November to engage and educate the elderly on road safety. He also reminded motorists to exercise greater care and to look out for elderly pedestrians.
Safety experts said the trend was worrying and more can be done to prevent senior citizens from getting into accidents.
Another area of concern was the increase in accidents resulting in injuries. There were 8,277 such cases last year - up from 8,058 in 2015, the highest in five years.
On the drink-driving front, there was an improvement - with the number of drink-driving-related accidents falling from 138 in 2015 to 134 last year. There were nine deaths linked to drink-driving last year, five fewer than in 2015. But SAC Tee said every road traffic fatality was one too many.
He added that TP and the Ministry of Home Affairs are reviewing the existing penalties in the Road Traffic Act, with a view to increasing the penalties for offences that result in death or hurt to others, especially where drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
More help needed for elderly pedestrians
More can be done to help elderly pedestrians and prevent them from getting into road accidents, say road safety experts.
The Traffic Police said yesterday that the number of accidents involving elderly pedestrians had increased by 19.6 per cent last year, compared with 2015.
Twenty-eight of them died from road accidents last year, up from the 23 in 2015.
Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay suggested that improvements could be made to crossings to make them more elderly-friendly and for more Silver Zones to be introduced.
For example, overhead bridges could be made with gentler slopes or with rest points midway for the elderly to catch their breath while climbing, he said.
"We need to convince the elderly... to use the proper crossings," he said.
Traffic Police Commander Sam Tee said yesterday that they are continually working with the Land Transport Authority on possible changes to the road traffic infrastructure to cater to elderly pedestrians.
Nanyang Technological University transport consultant Gopinath Menon said there was also a need to educate the public - including motorists and elderly pedestrians themselves - on road safety.
"Ultimately, it's about attitudes. Elderly pedestrians should be more conscious (of road safety), while motorists should be more careful and gracious," he said.
The Traffic Police said yesterday that their Road Master Test Kit - which was launched last November to test seniors' road sense and strengthen their road safety awareness - will be made available via dispensers at bus stops in neighbourhoods with high concentration of senior citizens such as Outram, Bishan and Serangoon.
Elderly persons can use their senior citizen concession ez-link cards to redeem a kit from the dispenser.
Since the dispensers were set up on Feb 2, 1,058 kits have been redeemed, the Traffic Police said.
This article was first published on Feb 16, 2017.
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